So now I’m back in Atlanta from the fabulous 2011 SCBWI Florida Regional Conference. I’ve attended several conferences hosted by this chapter and they have always been top notch, so I knew this year would be no different.
Today I’m going to post some highlights for you and share some really great gems of inspiration and information from the conference.
First off, The Novel Intensive was a full day of learning about the craft with agent Erin Murphy, author Joyce Sweeney, and executive editor Krista Marino (Delacorte Press). Topics ranged from scene structure, voice, and revision as well as first page critiques.
Voice is such a cloudy and hard to define craft tool to conquer, so I thought I would share what editor Krista Marino had to say about the elements of voice:
Elements of voice contain a combination of the following:
- Diction: Choice of words and phrases.
- Perspective: Mental view or outlook of the experience.
- Characterization: Reveal of information about a character.
- Dialogue: Verbal exchange between characters. Many writers can mistake voice for dialogue but it is not the same.
At the basic level, a writer needs to convey the teen perspective. Get into the mind of the character. Don’t use “teen speak” and brand names can date a work.
The interior dialogue of the character can sometimes be the biggest thing missing in a manuscript. Interior dialogue needs to have three facets — thought, feeling, and reaction — to be effective.
Remember that teens make decisions based on their limited experience. Writers need to erase their own worldliness and experiences from the teen character. Since a teen’s life is limited, an event can trigger the “end of the world” for them.
To officially open up the conference, author Bruce Hale did a phenomenal presentation, “Writer’s Mind, Warrior Mind — Toughing it Out and Getting Published.”
To say that everyone enjoyed the presentation is an understatement — especially since it ended with Bruce Hale serenading the conference with his own version of the great 90′s song “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree.
Not only is Bruce a good singer, he’s also a great dancer as personally witnessed during the Dragon Slayer Ball later that night. :)
It was the perfect way to open up the conference with some inspiration to tackle the hard task of creating art in writing. Here are just a few gems from Bruce Hale:
“Writing is a game of head and heart.
You are only at war with yourself. You need to get in the mindset of a warrior.
It’s okay to be a little neurotic as a writer because no sane person would do this.
We are nothing more than the sum of our habits. Think about your habits and how you get stuff done.
Writers write with heat and passion. Passion is what will set your work apart. Passion is the key.
When you tell a story that matters to you, the planets align.
You can get to the heart of the story by asking why. Ask questions like a 3-year old.
Facing the fear in your writing will help you conquer it. Fear is resistance.
Persistence beats talent any day.”
Bruce Hale also referred to one of my favorite books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s a great book to have if you find yourself struggling with resistance and procrastination.
So that’s it for Part One of my highlights. I hope you found them useful and inspiring.
Stay tuned for Part Two on Thursday, where I’ll share workshop highlights from agent Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency and Roaring Brook Press editor Katherine Jacobs.